NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 18th (All times Eastern)
Miami Heat (45-19) at Cleveland Cavaliers (26-41), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - It's always big news when LeBron James returns to Cleveland, but the headlines belong to the Cavaliers when they host James and the Miami Heat Tuesday night.
All-Star Game MVP Kyrie Irving will miss at least two weeks with a left biceps injury suffered in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. It could be longer, but this is the initial plan.
Irving collided with Blake Griffin in Sunday's 102-80 drubbing, which ended a two-game winning streak for the Cavs. They opened a three-game western swing with wins over Phoenix and Golden State, but the smoking-hot Clippers halted that run.
After Irving left late in the first quarter against the Clips, the rout was in full effect. The lead was 17-3 midway through the first and swelled to 21 in the third quarter before LA secured its 11th consecutive victory.
"We just can't come out and start games like that," said Jarrett Jack. "We just had a lull period for almost a quarter and a half where we didn't go out there and compete. When we did, the game started to kind of turn in our favor. But fighting an uphill battle against a team like that is a very tough task."
Luol Deng led the way with 23 points, followed by 15 from Dion Waiters. Spencer Hawes chipped in 14 points before he was ejected in the fourth quarter and Jack rounded out the double-figure scorers with 12.
Cleveland won't have an easier time after the Heat leave town. Oklahoma City and Houston come in on this residency as the Cavs trail the Atlanta Hawks by five games for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff seed.
The Heat snapped a two-game losing streak Sunday with a 113-104 home win over the Houston Rockets. It was sweet revenge for Miami, which fell in Houston on March 4.
Despite the victory, the Heat are still not playing their best basketball of the season. They've dropped five of their last seven and trail the Indiana Pacers by 3 1/2 games for Eastern Conference supremacy.
Ray Allen scored a season-high 25 points to help the Heat to victory over the Rockets Sunday. Houston led with 4:26 to go, but Allen sparked the winning run with a layup to take the lead and a 3-pointer to put the Rockets out of reach.
"Ray is awesome, the guy just doesn't need much time or space. He has been huge for us," Dwyane Wade said.
Allen also moved up the NBA scoring list by passing Allen Iverson (24,368) by two points to move into 21st place.
James and Wade each notched 24 points for the Heat, who visit the Boston Celtics on this short trip. Wade added seven assists in the win and Chris Bosh scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
The Heat have won both matchups this season with Cleveland and are 12-1 against the Cavs since James bolted in the summer of 2010. Miami has won seven straight as the host in this series.
03/18 10:21:43 ET